Lloyd Vernet Bridges, Jr. was an American actor who starred in a number of television series and appeared in more than 150 feature films. Bridges is best known for his role of Mike Nelson in Sea Hunt, which was the top American TV series in 1958. He is the father of Beau Bridges and Jeff Bridges.
Bridges was born in San Leandro, California, the son of Harriet Evelyn and Lloyd Vernet Bridges, Sr., who was involved in the California hotel business and once owned a movie theater. Bridges graduated from Petaluma High School in 1931. He studied political science at UCLA, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He met his future wife there, Dorothy Bridges ; they married in 1938 in New York City.
Bridges made his Broadway debut in 1939 in a production of Shakespeare’s Othello. In 1941, he joined the stock company at Columbia Pictures, where he played small roles in features and short subjects. He left Columbia to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard. Following World War II, he returned to film acting. He was blacklisted briefly in the 1950s after he admitted to the House Un-American Activities Committee that he had once been a member of the Actors’ Lab, a group with links to the Communist Party. He resumed working after being cleared by the FBI, finding his greatest success in television.
Bridges gained wide recognition as Mike Nelson, the main character in the television series Sea Hunt, created by Ivan Tors, which ran in syndication from 1958-1961. Following that success, he starred in the eponymous CBS anthology The Lloyd Bridges Show, which included appearances by his sons Beau and Jeff. Producer Gene Roddenberry, who worked with Bridges on “Sea Hunt”, reportedly offered Bridges the role of Captain Kirk on before the part went to William Shatner. In addition, he was a regular cast member in the Rod Serling western series The Loner, and in the two NBC failures San Francisco International Airport and a Police Story spin-off Joe Forrester. Later, he appeared in Paper Dolls and Capital News, both for ABC, and again with Harts of the West, this time for CBS, a comedy/western set on a dude ranch in Nevada. Son Beau Bridges co-starred, along with Harley Jane Kozak as Beau’s wife, Alison Hart, and Sean Murray as the oldest Hart son, Zane Grey Hart.